Man About Town: Cheaper food that’s really hot stuff

When you hear the phrase “whisky tasting”, you think wood-panelled private dining rooms in old-fashioned restaurants.

But on Thursday The Singleton hosted a tasting of new varieties at an outdoor street market setting on the Southbank of the Thames.

After we were introduced to the new varieties Sunray and Tailfire on top of barrels, guests were introduced to cocktails and possible food pairings: fish dogs (fish hot dogs, much nicer than it sounds) and brilliant doughnuts from Hix, extraordinary marshmallows from The Marshmallowists and chocolate from Cocomaya.

The setting is one that I’ve been getting used to, as hawker-style has been growing steadily in recent years, and this year looks to be the summer of eating outdoors.

Tonight Guerrilla Eats – a group of street food traders – is organising a gathering of stalls at the Greengate Viaduct in Manchester, in Leeds Trinity Kitchen draws monthly street food traders and next month in Birmingham The Fine Food Market will take place around the Custard Factory.

London is embracing it enthusiastically. Last week there was the Streets of Spain festival in the centre of town, the south east is hosting Model Market and the north east of the city sees Street Feast return for the sunny season.

It’s a cheaper, simpler way to go out. A highlight recently was Chilli Chilli Bang Bang – a festival devoted to the humble chilli. Smaller outfits like Rola Wala and Busan BBQ sat next to mini-chains like Wahaca as they attempted to numb palates with their spicy dishes.

I walked out with my tastebuds still intact. But just then I was approached by a lady from Liberia. She wanted me to try her Mama Nora’s chilli sauce. I tried a small amount on a biscuit, and it was very tasty. All was fine until I walked away, when things became fuzzy. It took a trip into the local Co-op and lots of coconut water before things returned to normal.

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